Spoiling Babies

11th February, 2010 / Parenting & Baby Tangents / 2 Comments

A (well meaning) friend asked with concern whether Annabelle sleeps outside the wrap since “it just seems like such a comfortable place to sleep!”

I hastily assured her that Annabelle sleeps just fine in her cradle by day and in our bed at night.  “But not on me,” I assured her.  I was quick to defend babywearing from the implication of spoiling babies.  But upon reflection, I wonder at this obsession with not letting babies get too attached, and I wish I could say that I had answered, “I don’t know how she would sleep without me and I’m not interested in finding out!”

We don’t have to teach infants independence.  They’re incapable of independence– they rely on us completely.  As they become capable their independence will spring from the knowledge of security in our love and support.  Do we want to teach our children that they can sooth themselves by demonstrating that they survive our neglect, or do we want them to learn self-soothing from our loving example?

The fact is that infants are designed to be on their mothers constantly.  Mother and baby thrive this way and the more devices and conveniences separate a baby from his mother, the more benefits are lost.

Perhaps if our culture could shift the emphasis in child rearing away from convenience and toward constant nurturing, we might discover the “convenience” of satisfied, thriving babies; of children who completely trust parents; of neighbors, co-workers, and politicians who have all benefited from an early introduction to a love-filled world . . .

I’m not recommending martyrdom.  In fact, I experience relief from pressures when I remind myself not to worry about my actions “spoiling” my child by allowing her to become accustomed to sleeping in-arms, nursing-on-demand, and having her every newborn whim catered to as best I can.  Once I let those considerations go, I find that I am free to delight in the constant sight, smell, sound, and feel of my baby.  I am free to neglect the dusting, let the machine answer the phone, and wear the same outfit I wore yesterday.  I am free to spend hours relaxing with my baby and I find that catering to her every whim provides an enjoyment and satisfaction beyond anything I could get done while she naps in the cradle.

I’m not going to waste my time worrying that she’ll never learn to sleep by herself.  People all across the globe and throughout history have managed it.

Just my opinion but the only “spoiled” baby is the one whose babyhood is wasted on sleep training and feeding schedules.  Even then, the baby isn’t spoiled–it’s really just the time together that’s been spoiled. And there’s no getting that time back.



Click here to buy a wrap. Thank you for your business! This is how I support my family. - Diana ❤️


  • Kat February 15, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Well said, and sweet photos! Under outside pressure, I tried letting him cry himself to sleep for a short time, but nothing ever felt so wrong to me. We switched to co-sleeping and never looked back. I wouldn’t trade all these many hours of cuddling and loving my beautiful boy. Now, when he says, “I want to go to Grandma’s house. I want to go by myself. You stay home.” I’m proud of him for enjoying his independence. It’s on his own terms, which feels very right to me.


    • Diana February 17, 2010 at 9:49 pm

      I think it’s so important to talk about how wonderful are the parenting choices that are sometimes unpopular but ultimately most respectful of our families, because that outside pressure is so insidious and can be unbelievably irresistible at times! I’m very happy that your son had the benefit of your mothering! And that his independence was born from trust rather than abandonment!


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